Build Bridges, Not Walls | 25th Anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall

Here is an arial shot tracing the former wall through the city of Berlin.

Berlin Wall Falling, falling of Berlin Wall, 25th anniversary falling of Berlin Wall

8,000 balloons in Berlin tracing the path of the former wall, which fell 25 years ago today, November 8, in 1989

I’m reposting this article in the Int’l Business Times, in which they’ve documented the 8,000 white balloons erected to trace the path of the former Berlin Wall from all different vantage points.

The light installation was developed by two artists, Christopher and Marc Bauder, set up along a 15 km (9.3 mi) stretch. The balloons were then released. One major states that they represent “Peace and Freedom”. This article has a video showing the celebration of the release of the balloons into the sky among crowd-packed streets in Berlin.

http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/berlin-wall-8000-white-balloons-mark-route-divisive-rampart-25th-anniversary-fall-1473693

Put into effect in 1961, the Wall was built by the German Democratic Republic – (GDR) East Germany, and remained until November 9th, 1989 – 25 years ago today. The Wall extended hundreds of miles outside of Berlin, including many towns which were part of the Eastern Bloc. One man with whom I got a ride hitchhiking while traveling through Germany, was a football coach, raised in the East. He was lucky, his profession was easily absorbed by the West. However, many of his friends who had professions and degrees, weren’t so lucky. He candidly stated that in fact the comfort and security that people of the East had – by having all of their major needs provided (education/housing/food) – lacked the incentive to keep reaching forward in their careers. For example, because of not having the push that goes along with the pressures of capitalism – to strive and succeed in competition with others – left a population somewhat resigned to complacency. [I, the author, do not condone capitalism either – as I think that it leans towards consumerism and away from a healthy cooperation between people and their environment and appreciation and respect for all living things.]

The falling of the Wall lead to Germany’s Unification Treaty that was signed on the 20th of September in 1990. I mentioned being among the celebrations of Berlin’s ‘Tag der Einheit/Unification Day’ while living in Berlin in this former blog. http://carolkeiter.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/mid-october-berlin-whirlwind-review-unification-day-festival-of-lights/

This youtube video highlighting the former Wall through Berlin features the music that is sooooo typical of Berlin’s down tempo minimalist sound! The former Wall was constructed by the Soviet empire to keep the Eastern residents under Soviet rule, from entering the West. Ironically, when I first moved to Berlin in 1995, I soon recognized that residents of each side, still held this border within. I’d ask locals who lived on each side to join me to attend an event on the other side, and found that there was a reluctance. Young residents of the former East, had resistance to go to a happening in the West those in the West snubbed going to an event in the East. Naturally, as an Ausländer, I didn’t have this Wall in my head. I was surprised that it lingered in the hearts of even the youth.

I discovered this article in the New York Times by Michael Kimmelman since posting this blog, “Berlin After the Wall: A Microcosm of the World’s Chaotic Change”. It features video footage and interviews of how the light bridge was constructed. More importantly, the author talks about the expectations of how the city would change and about how the world has changed since the wall fell. He interviews a scientist and former civil rights leader of former East Germany, Jens Reich. “During those first years after the wall came down, the city was gloomy, industries were dying, communities dying,” Mr. Reich said. “Many Berliners fled to the suburbs. The elderly left. But then, unexpectedly, young people started moving into neighborhoods like mine, Prenzlauer Berg in the former East, and now children of those who left want to come back, except they can’t afford the rents because all the foreigners are driving prices up.”

The photo below is along the Spree, in a location which 15 years ago was still an empty lot with a bunch of cranes. All of this area had been bombed and flattened. The rubble since long gone, but still nothing remained. Since then, the array of government buildings were constructed, when the capital of Germany was relocated once again back to Berlin in 2000 from Bonn, Germany. This shot is fairly close to the Reichstag along the Spree river which runs through Berlin.

Balloons tracing path of former Berlin Wall along Spree river in Berlin.

among the 8,000 balloons tracing the former path of the Berlin Wall, which fell November 9th, 1989

Strangely, as this article in the LA Times points out, the far-right National Front party has gained ground in France.

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B e r l i n s t r e e t s e r i e s | m u s i c | R o t a t i o n S t r a s s e n M u s i k 2013

Yet another musical festival erupted in Berlin

the Rotation Street Music Fest happened today, September 21st, on the eve of the Autumnal Equinox

Just around the corner from this rather steely industrial drab view of Berlinberlins_industrial_horizon_fernsehenturm

And perhaps because of it berlins_industrial_skyline_warschauerbrueck_bicyclist

do arts come into focus, even in the background

gigantic graffiti realistic images

gigantic graffiti realistic images

this was on my way to discovering the street music festival, called Rotation

Friedrichshain street music festival September 21st

Friedrichshain street music festival September 21st

desmond-rotation_red_umbrella_theme

desmond_gargica_red_umbrellas

desmond_garcia_one_man_band

desmond_garcia_smiling_coffee_mug-graffiti

duo_1

duo_2

balcony_band_discovery

balcony_band_closer

balcony_band_closest

Berlin Art Week | Grand Opening 9/17/13 on August Straße | 6 days, 21 venues

Berlin art fans had the fortune of faire weather for Berlin Art Week’s outdoor Grand Opening on August Straße. Here’s the Berlin Tourist information guide to Berlin Art Week 2013 in English as well.

Berlin Art Week opening on August Straße in Mitte  September 17, 2013


Berlin Art Week opening on August Straße in Mitte
September 17, 2013

Berlin Art Week September 17th - 6 days, 21 venues

Berlin Art Week September 17th – 6 days, 21 venues

Hundreds compacted the street, snaked up stairs and brushed past one another in and out of galleries along the chic Mitte street in the center of Berlin.

August Straße glowing stage

August Straße glowing stage

The KW (Kunst-Werk/Art Work) Institute for Contemporary Art on Auguststraße 69 was as well naturally clogged with people.

KW Institute for Contemporary Art on Auguststraße 69

KW Institute for Contemporary Art on Auguststraße 69

I was captivated with Astrid Köppe’s work ‘Pareidolia’ in Galerie Weißer Elefant on August Strasse 21, up the rear stairs to the 1st floor.

She featured eloquent prints, in which she constructed with hair-thin lines and bubbles, glaringly simple and elegant forms. Many of them emulating nature, in my interpretation.

Artist Astrid Köppe's Pareidolia series

Artist Astrid Köppe’s Pareidolia series

artist_Astrid Köppe_Pareidolia_series_octopus_like

artist_Astrid Köppe_Pareidolia_series_2

artist_Astrid Köppe_Pareidolia_series_1

Her exhibition also consisted of physically interactive installations

Astrid Köppe's bubbling wall installation

Astrid Köppe’s bubbling wall installation

among bold paintings

along with some humorous twists, featuring glamorous portraits of the artist herself in her eyelash fingernail series.

Astrid Köppe's eyelash fingernail self portraits.

Astrid Köppe’s eyelash fingernail self portraits.


Astrid Köppe's eyelash fingernail self portraits.

Astrid Köppe’s eyelash fingernail self portraits.

The Alfred Ehrhardt Stiftung (Foundation) on Augustrstr. 75 featured Ute Behrend’s works with pairs; Conifer Club/Second Glance.

Ute_Behrend's series of photographs in pairs at th Alfred Ehrhardt Stiftung

Ute_Behrend’s series of photographs in pairs at th Alfred Ehrhardt Stiftung

The festivities included live music on a stage and several dj’s spinning as people congregated to dance before their turntables. A highlight before the street was closed down, was when a Policeman came to shut down a dj’s music, to which the crowd in unison boomed a dropping-tone reactive plea to the Police officer when he arrived…and without a skip in the beat, responded with a crescendoing cheer when the music promptly started again. Animated to get in that last song, the crowd (including myself) danced emphatically as the dj played his last song; a very appropriate hiphop tune that started with words announcing ‘the last song’. The jumpn’ beats pitched to a crashing, noise violating climax, during which time you could detect the officer’s increased agitation. Then the beats picked up for a last danceable stretch before the turntables came to a stop.

dj gesticulating and dancing as agitated policeman waits

dj gesticulating and dancing as agitated policeman waits

As the turntables spun out that last song, it gave the dj freedom to move away from them – climb onto a speaker for a bit – and fully interact with the crowd as he mouthed the words, danced and gestured > true hiphop style. Those last minutes seemed grueling for the police officer, as he patiently waited at the decks for the song to come to an end.
glowing turntables on Auguststrasse

glowing turntables on Auguststrasse

It was fantastic.

B e r l i n s t r e e t s e r i e s / s a t i r i c a l s t e n c i l \ g r a f f i t i > f e a t A l i a s

Alias works: Don't Tell Anyone

Alias works:
Don’t Tell Anyone

Alias Works: Head in Hands

Alias Works:
Head in Hands

I discovered this Alias works’ below a few years ago, strolling in the Hinterhof (back courtyard) of Hackescher Markt, actually the (zweiter hinterhof / two courtyards’ deep) in Mitte, Berlin, Germany. It’s enormity of expression speaks for itself. I posted it then in this blog. https://digesthis.wordpress.com/2010/08/11/mo-mitte-and-graffiti-pics/

Alias: PicketinG for a better Future

Alias: PicketinG for a better Future

It appears that Alias is still ever present in Berlin.

And now, I digress.

In my own works towards creating a better future for myself, after returning to Berlin just under two moons ago, I’ve immersed myself in doing the necessary proactive stuff. I’ve come to embrace the 3 P’s as my allies: patience, persistence and pleasure, to get me through the language and beaurocratic impasses, while fluidly interacting with the life around me as a connect – from the abundant disconnects.

Electricity and internet connections allow me to stroll through the avenues of classified ads, posting and reading posts (in my work and housing searches), connecting with friends, hearing about events, and going to them, along with dropping into nature with biking and swimming and ultimate frisbee in parks. Sometimes a local bibliotek or loitering way too many hours beyond what that cup of coffee should have allowed me to get away with at Sankt Oberholz, sending out wires for work while studying topics and further writing…

Yesterday, at the end of two 10 hour ‘work’ days, I perused facebook during leisure hours. I saw a quote on an acquaintance’s wall – who was and still is – connected to the ccc’s events back in San Francisco in the day, before it, along with a plethora of other arts and co-oped music places were dislocated from the burgeoning economics, greedily feeding the new start-up scene. Not to be confused with the ccc – chaos computer club – in Berlin, the former San Francisco based ccc – consortium of collective consciousness – is a psychedelic Goa trance family founded by Brad Olsen's original ccc logo - consortium of collective consciousness Brad Olsen. The ccc warehouse took the plunge, a year after documenting in that year’s HowWeird Street Fair (also founded by Brad Olsen), the dislocation of 180 or so local businesses that had been cut out of their leases by landlords, due to the real estate bubble that was bursting.

I was about to write this quote which resonated with me, as I sat with my newly hooked up internet cable stretched into my room (attempting to avoid asphyxiation from cigarette smoking in my current shared housing residence) the only place where WiFi is achievable, the common space kitchen.

“Everything changes when you start to emit your own frequency rather than absorbing the frequencies around you…

…when you start imprinting your intent on the Universe rather than receiving an imprint from existence.”

Having just adjusted the furniture to enable me to sit at a table in my bright, unsmoke-filled room to work, I was contentedly writing away – journaling about how content I am with all the effort I’ve been putting out and generally happy and hopeful feeling… when there was a knock on the door, which was opened before I said “come in”. I’m sure the intentions were good, with a new ‘longer’ internet cable to stretch into my room. However, 25 minutes later, after having moved my table now 4 times, hooking up to a new, then to the old, cable. Ultimately, I had no internet connection at all. After being met with hostility and accusations, I now was pitched into a new range of unpleasant emotions, notching up my vocal expulsions.

I chose to relocate, to a local library. Then their internet connection shortcomings pitched me out of there as well, unable to continue the flow. Then I went to another place and encountered someone yelling at these other people, which pitched then into an argument. I left that place too, then sat briefly with an acquaintance. We revealed to each other a bit about each others‘ lives.

I learned that he’s actually Austrian, that his grandfather was a Nazi who had the SS tattoed under the armpit of his left arm. And that his father, a sailor, went to French Guiana where he met his mother, a darker skinned native there. He explained that his childhood was a strange mixed-up world, in which his father worried that his kids would be dark skinned…yet each of the four are faire. He told me this with his now distinctly more apparent African features, and pale blue eyes. We parted company on each of our bicycles, and I wound up back at home. After probing the connection in my room which still no longer worked, I’m back in the kitchen, about to have a cig myself, just to acclimate to the local climate’ -)

So, regarding imprinting your intent on the Universe, rather than receiving an imprint from existence, well, the same applies; patience, persistence and pleasure > the embodiment of pleasure to me is motion, moving towards what pleases and away from that which impinges on pleasure.

Alias kid head in hands and woman beneath featured by AndBerlin

Alias kid head in hands and woman beneath featured by andberlin

This AndBerlin blog features Alias sightings

And this AndBerlin blog captures a lot of the essence of the fabulous large scale art you see from the streets in Berlin.

Carol the blogger, snap shot in Mauerpark Berlin by a FRenchBerlinonBike blogger

Carol the blogger, snap shot in Mauerpark Berlin by a FRenchBerlinonBike blogger

To Russia with Love | Berlin’s Kiss-in to Kiss-off Putin |

Berlin’s ‘To Russia, with Love’ ‘Kiss-in’ staged September 8th, paralleled unanimous protests around the world against anti-gay laws in Russia. As reported in the Times Colonist.

A week earlier on August 31st, Huffington Post captured Berlin’s protest against Putin’s anti-gay laws.

I strolled down to Unter den Linden to capture some of Berlin’s ‘kiss-in’ on Sunday.

the kiss

the kiss

the kiss couple

the kiss couple

with fine style

dashing couple

dashing couple

and queens in flair

queens in their finest

queens in their finest

Putin upside down, having his mouth taped shut.

Putin upside down, mouth taped shut.

Putin upside down, mouth taped shut.

Putin right side up, Russian style.

Putin sign Russian style

Putin sign Russian style

a journalist taking notes

dreadhead journalist

dreadhead journalist

And a few more photos of Berlin’s ‘kiss-in to kiss-off’ Putin.

B e r l i n s t r e e t s e r i e s / s a t i r i c a l s t e n c i l \ d a p p e r d e s i g n

Back on Berlin’s pavements

met with surprises

comically clever

delightfully satirical

s t e n c i l

d e s i g n

g r a f f i t i

For starters, the freshly discovered ‘let’s party’ stencil series, fresh for me anyway!

Remember the night we all went to bed on time? Me neither.    Lets Party

Remember the night we all went to bed on time? Me neither. Lets Party

Have Less do More

Have Less do More Let’s Party

archives await

Berlin Rally Oct. 15th 2011 | Global Day of Economic Protest from the 99% |

On Saturday October 15th, I participated in the rally which took place in Berlin, among those rippling around the world, on this global day of economic protest. Spawned by the “Occupy Wall Street” movement instigated in NYC, the 99% of the population around the world wish to ‘occupy’ and gain the wealth due, which has been up to this point in the hands of the 1% – the banks – who happen to also control the weapons. People around the globe; in New York, London, Madrid, Berlin, Paris, Hong Kong, Sydney… demand that the bankers not be bailed out, but that wealth be shared.

Here’s a pic posted from Alex Gendler, who’s a resident in NYC.

The title alone of his blog is clever!!

http://crasstalk.com/author/achilleselbow

In the meantime, here’s what the New York Times coverage in the USA reveals.

Here’s what Amy Goodman on Democracy Now had to say about this incident (pictured above) of a 24 year old Iraq War vet, Scott Olsen, who received a fractured skull after being hit on the head during the protest in Oakland by a projectile fired by the police.

More people’s testimonies can be viewed directly on the we are the 99 % site: http://wearethe99percent.tumblr.com

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/16/world/occupy-wall-street-protests-worldwide.html?_r=1

In fact the ‘occupy wall street movement‘ marked one month on the 17th of October, as instigator’s of the people to rally in New York city and camp out at Zuccotti Park. You can get continuous updates about what’s currently happening in New York and other cities through Amy Goodman’s broadcasts on Democracy Now.

And there’s another call for people to occupy the Bundestag/Parlament – Spaziergang zum Platz der Republik – this time on Saturday the 22nd, from 1pm to 3pm. Berlin Versammlung #occupyberlin #occupybundestag.

In Berlin, the air was festive and the crowd represented all ages, ethnic and economic backgrounds. There were loads of signs and testimonies regarding each person or group’s particular insights. There were quite a number of Guy Fawkes masks in the crowd, appropriately.

There was music everywhere during the march; from bicycles equipped with speakers blaring techno, to older folks singing folkloric songs in pairs, a choir of people singing A cappella with lyrics about the economy, drumming groups and wagons with music…. It was mostly a joyous gathering of people with a lot of laughter and dancing at different stopping points. People sat before the Reichstag/Parlament making various speeches, using the ‘human microphone’ aka Michael Moore style in NYC. One person would stand up stating a phrase, and the group of people sitting around him or her would echo line by line the words, so that everyone further away could hear. The only tension (while I was still present) was at the the end of the march when people were gathered sitting before the Reichstag – the building which houses the Bundestag / Parlament, when the the riot police came in to the crowd to confiscate the people’s tents! It seemed more like a symbolic show of power, with the tent more a representation of the people’s demand to be there, than anything more. There was commotion and boos coming from the crowed when the police lifted the tent above their heads and carried it away. Then cheers sprung from the crowd, when suddenly another tent appeared and was lifted back into the same circle. Ha! I imagined this scene going on for a while, with each subsequent tent being just a little bit smaller, like the Russian “Matryoshka dolls” each replica smaller and smaller, nestled within the next. I imagined the last tent hoisted by the ‘people’ being about a foot in diameter, as their own might is deflated by the police.

Heine of http://de-de.facebook.com/pages/Berlin-gegen-Krieg/246706007440 set up his symbolic cash register which states: The Zero Sum Game – Berlin-Gegen-Krieg/ Berlin Against War.

One of the more amusing signs was one which read on one side:

• Wir sind die 99%, Schluß mit Lustigem Casino / We are the 99%, put an end to this joke of a casino.

and on the other

• Rettet der Erde! sie ist der einziger Planet mit Schokolade!
Save the Earth! It’s the only planet with chocolate!

The guy who was flaunting this before where we were sitting in the crowd in front of the Bundestag was quite a joker himself. At one point he stated loudly in hearing range of a lot of people; well, I have to leave the revolution now, because Lidl/the grocery store, closes at 8pm. I felt as if this ironically sums up a lot, because as long as people are relatively comfortable and not in any dire circumstances, they will be propelled to continue with their routines, among them, buying food before the stores close or any other dictates by our culture through manufactured consent… going home to watch a TV program. ouch!

Two other things stood out in my head from the protest, one was a man who was mad, not necessarily a madman, who had a megaphone. He was ranting into the crowd yelling at people for taking pictures and having cell phones…but then giggling as he was ranting. At one point this other man annoyed, came up to him and grabbed the microphone to start shouting some things back at him, and they proceeded to argue for a while standing within a foot of one another, taking turns grabbing the little black thing to speak into the megaphone.

The other which I found amusing, was when as my friend and I were standing in one spot as the march had finished but people hadn’t yet started to gather at the Bundestag, suddenly all of these police in riot gear appeared right in front of us. They just stood there quietly inspecting the crowd, peering around in all directions. At on point a pair of kids walked up, one of them dressed very colorfully, and his language was just as flamboyant. He walked up to the police and asked them in if they were planning on shooting? I couldn’t follow all that he was saying in German, but he stood right next to the bulwark of about a dozen Policemen, and casually spoke in a louder than normal tone of voice to his friend standing next to him, talking about the Police, as if they weren’t standing right there beside him. He kept making all of these comments that were so provocative, dressed in flowery clothes that dangled on his lithe body, with a little pouch over his shoulder that was a stuffed animal. The police didn’t seem to be getting too perturbed, but this guy just kept on talking relentlessly. He never had an aggressive tone, just a kind of passive commentary, loud enough that they could all hear him, but never quite impressive enough to cause them to retaliate.

And the most endearing image was that of this adorable Spanish child of about 5 who was so excited every time this guy raised his string of wire to blow a bunch of bubbles with soap. This guy rode in a harmless little chariot that said “Capitalism is organized Crime”. Anyway, the boy would throw up his arms in delight and then run after the bubbles, as many kids of various ages did, and as many children of all the world would. Odd how money gets in the way, and the human factor is disregarded as dispensable, as is preserving nature and the animals of the planet, in the face of greed and the desire for more and more profit.


I saw one sign leaning over the shoulder of what appeared to be a well-dressed yuppy, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore”, from the film Network. Yes, there was quite an array of voices and statements out there, and much of it quite amusing.

Here’s a link to a short video looking at the occupy wall street movement in NYC from the inside. http://www.planet-mag.com/2011/events/editors/right-here-all-over-occupy-wall-st/

350.org (To preserve our planet, scientists tell us we must reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere from its current level of 392 parts per million (“ppm”)to below 350 ppm) also is coordinating an occupy movement worldwide: #Occupy and the #Climate Movement.

Descriptions of the various signs can be viewed as you drag your mouse over the picture.

Mitte graffiti pics | Tacheles | Bearpit Karaoke | Yard5 | Burningman

Okay, I felt I had to re-write this post, tweak it a bit, so that it’s reflecting curious aspects of the community of Berlin which I’m living in, as opposed to merely references of my capability to be a brat ‘-)) In this text I’m describing content relevant to the pictures below; referencing Mitte graffiti pics, Tacheles, the Bearpit Karaoke experience in Prenzlauer Berg’s Mauer Park, Yard5 and ultimately, Burningman, because of the fact that Berlin has aspects within it’s spontaneous art happenings, to that of this desert music and arts festival in the state of Nevada in the United States.

The images that you see below are mostly pictures of graffiti figures that I find interesting; some discovered wandering in a hinter hof (second auxiliary courtyard) near the Hackesche Höfe in Mitte. Notice that some artists’ themes appear in different locations! I find it amusing to re-discover various figures, images and stencils … appearing in different parts of the city.

I also have some photos of the famous & infamous Tacheles, an old building that survived having been bombed in World War II, which was squatted at one point by artists who then legally were given the right to remain there. The place has been struggling and teetering with battles from within, among the various people who inhabit the place as well as with the town government authorities to hold its’ lease, which is reflected by their website, to ‘save’ the place.

http://super.tacheles.de/cms/

It’s been a tourist attraction for years, since not only have artists’ had their studios there which are open to visitors almost 24/7, but there has continually been a thriving art scene on the property; a movie theater, another large stage and theater to host events and a number of bars within the building which each have their own unique character, some of which feature live bands nightly. The vast outdoor grounds are what has given this place its’ best feature, where there have been all sorts of performances; from a stage with live bands, to jugglers, fire twirlers, gardens that have been created and various other installations.

The place, particularly on warm days and evenings, is rampant with tourists and locals who enjoy the various music and arts that it offers. I’ve featured a few pictures of the art there, and of the art of some of the resident art studios. In fact, when I was in Berlin in 1996, I discovered an Israeli artists’ interactive work on display for several months in the huge courtyard of Tacheles, and was impressed enough to write about it then. He entitled it “The Peace Tent”. Yes, there really are aspects of Berlin that are faintly similar to Burningman.

http://carolkeiter.50megs.com/writing_pages/peace_tent.html

Okay, now that I’ve mentioned the word, I have to add this link to an article I wrote after my first experience attending the Burningman festival in the Nevada desert of the United States, which is at this very moment, August 14th, in its’ final preparatory stages – it peaks and the Man is burned, in the last days of August/first days September. A friend of mine from San Francisco who was visiting me in Berlin a few summers ago, commented as we bicycled around Berlin, that Berlin is similar to Burningman, and he opted for the word ‘Berlinman’.


http://www.stevetinsky.com/photos/bm2001/Carol/utopia.html

The official burningman site is
http://www.burningman.com/

And as the theme changes each year, here is the one for 2010.

http://www.burningman.com/art_of_burningman/bm10_theme.html

One of these pics features my new friend Jaheed, a native New Yorker who’s been living in Amsterdam for the last 5 years, and just moved to Berlin 3 weeks ago to pursue his music career here in Berlin, where there’s a lot more happening and constantly spontaneous cool things going on throughout the city. One of the pictures below is of Jah feeding a bird that one of these artists’ created, “a BP bird” referring to the BP labeled Gulf Oil Disaster.

Jah and I had sang together at the bearpit karaoke on Sundays in Mauer park, the song by Estelle feat. Kayne West “American Boy”.

Jaheed “JahOfYork” Bell, Singer/ Songwriter –

http://www.myspace.com/jahofyork
http://www.twitter.com/jahofyork
http://www.jahofyork.blogspot.com

I must mention this fabulously popular outdoor karaoke event, which is becoming an institution in Mauer park – ‘Bearpit Karaoke’, which takes place – weather permitting – every Sunday in Mauer Park, in the Prenzlauer Berg district of Berlin.

http://www.bearpitkaraoke.com/

Joe Hatch, who’s an Irish guy living in Berlin, is the originator of this massively successful event. He’s rigged a bicycle with a trailer to transport the speakers, his laptop with the songs and from which the singer can read the text, and the mics…which he sets up on the already built stage and amphitheater existing in Mauer park. Mauer = wall It’s one of the locations of the former wall, which was constructed by the Soviets August 13th, 1961 to contain the tendency of the East Germans to want to flee their regime. A wall to imprison people from escaping their own territory basically, because they must have felt that it was inherently hostile. Nice!

Back to the bearpit karaoke. It started a handful of years ago, with a trickle of people attending, and has burgeoned this past summer of 2010 into this crowd of onlookers, spilling out beyond the seating capacity. The significant catch of this particular karaoke, is that the audience are not merely passive watchers and listeners, but actively singing, swaying, dancing and sometimes even jumping up onto the stage to dance along with the singing act. It’s great fun for a divers crowd of all ages and backgrounds, and the people who participate reveal this same mix – from 11 to 92 year olds’, with every imagined type of act – mostly R rated.

Among the pictures are also some of a recent vernissage – gallery opening – of ‘Yard5’, a shop catering to graffiti artists located in the Friedrichshain neighborhood of Berlin; featuring paints, tips and hiphop fashion.

-.-.-.-.-.-. and back to some personal encounters of Carol the blogger, on her bicycle, which I found amusing !-)

Earlier this week, on Tuesday August 10th, I had this full-on productive day, filling me with energy as I accomplished one thing after another. I was stoked with the flow I was in. As some friends from the US would say – as they coined the term – I was ‘on 11’ : on a scale of 1 – 10 !-) At one point after blazing through one major intersection on my bike – using my own judgment as opposed to heeding the traffic signals to dictate to me when I could go, and subsequently slicing a corner of the next one; cutting into the lane facing the wrong way traffic as a car turned from the other direction behind me. This little car caught up and a Turkish guy – late 30’s-early 40’s – with his girlfriend seated in the passenger seat yelled loudly out his car window, fully aggro, “are you CRAzY?” To which I spontaneously answered with a wide grin, because I was happy, “YeS, i am !!” I continued riding in the wrong direction in the lane next to him at the same pace, then added with still a big smile, laughing at this point, “and i LiKe it!”. At this point, his anger melted into laughter and he said something like, ‘blah, blah hippy chick’ ….ha! I’m still laughing about the encounter !-)

…..Along with another one, when a stuffy German man raised his voice as I was riding by on my bike in the twilight and I had surprised him. He yelled out “LiCHT” to put my bike light on, and my voice drifted back to him as I sped away, “Ich HaBe Kein……………………Bock” The word trailing at the end, subtly changed the meaning, from “I don’t have one”, to I don’t want to” He hadn’t heard that last word. I just started laughing, to myself.

Yeah, well, the adventures of maneuvering on the streets of Berlin on a bicycle, which is actually an extremely friendly bicycle city in fact! Lots of bike lanes built into the pedestrian walking areas as well as designated lanes painted onto the roads, if the bike traffic happens to spill onto the street.

cheers!

spontaneous eruption of pianos, graffiti art & musicians in Mauerpark, Berlin

As a piano lover, I was astonished when I approached Mauer park on a weekday leading up to this last weekend in July and standing before me was an upright piano plunked on the grass. I approached it and asked some people there adjusting it, just what this was all about. Those whom I questioned who were helping to assemble the installation, pointed out that there were another five pianos scattered throughout the park. What? It was surreal! One of the men explained to me that this was the concept of two pianists, as a prelude to a concert they will be performing weeks later, in Berlin. Their intention, to introduce this fine instrument to the public, and to point out how omnipresent the piano has been throughout history as the centerpiece of entertainment. This piano installation allowed people to approach the instrument, check it out, tinker around on the keys, engage themselves with it and to recognize that anyone can play. And play, is exactly what people did. Throughout each day, into the late night hours and into the dawn, there were almost perpetually people perched in front of one or all of these pianos. It was an opportunity to explore that attracted and inspired many people. And many, like myself, kept coming back!

My first impulse, which I followed after wandering to another piano and listening to a few people taking turns playing, was to bike home to grab my piano music books, featuring classical songs of different composers, among them my favorite | Chopin | and return immediately. That’s what I did. I hadn’t had the opportunity to practice in a while. Within a half hour, I had returned to that first piano I’d approached. I think I was standing up as I played, when a man came over and offered me a chair. It was still within the first hours of the exhibition, and when this same gentleman without much coaxing sat down before the piano and started playing fluidly and with playfulness, I quickly ascertained that he must have been one of the organizers. My intuition was correct, he was one of the pianists who had created the installation…and he and the other one were still there, hovering around as their dream was beginning to take shape.

It was remarkable enough to spontaneously have six upright pianos suddenly scattered across the park. But the magic was what occurred during the rest of that afternoon into the evening, and for the following days of the weekend. Each of these pianos had almost the entire time an individual or small group present, engaging themselves in playing. Some stiking, toying, stabbing…and then the numerous people of all walks of life and ages…who sat down and absolutely blew me away with how well they played. Quite a few of the people wandering through this park, wandering around in Berlin, – some locals, others visiting – surprised and delighted me with how expressive they were on the keys.

It was four days of full interactive entertainment, with people gathering around the pianos, playing, supporting each other, clapping as people finished and becoming acquainted with one another. It was such a splendid and enjoyable community bonding experience! What a fantastic gift.

As planned, on Sunday the 1st of August, graffiti artists created their art on the pianos. Now two worlds merged, an old school musical instrument and street art, each appreciated for its own merit. The whole experience was surrealistic and magical.

The pictures I’ve included were only taken on the Monday following the addition of the graffiti, when the park was almost empty. Still there were small groups picnicking and gathering around, as one or several of their friends played; a group of French students, some girls from Barcelona, a Mexican guy living in Berlin with his toddler son… I didn’t capture, as many did with photos or videos the various different performances that people gave, but I will savor all the images and sounds and pleasant surprises I had, among them the various people whom I met and interacted with.

On the first afternoon, two German girls independently approached the piano where I had my music books, and each took turns picking out classical pieces to play. Each of them were excellent pianists, so I was quite delighted to hear see them effortlessly reading the music and playing with such precision and delicacy. Then at another piano a professional musician from Portugal who happened to be doing a project in Berlin over the weekend, hired to compose music on the piano for a cell phone provider, Piedro, also happened upon the pianos and he would appear at different intervals to sit and entertain everyone around him, playing fabulously for hours. One evening several days later, I walked up to a piano among the crowds in the park on Sunday, many enthusiastically attending the karaoke there, intending to just keep walking. But what I heard almost physically jumped out at me because of how passionately this young woman was engaging herself into communicating and articulating this epic, at times discordant and haunting masterful story on the keys. I had no choice but to linger there, somewhat riveted to listen. I was astounded, and as the goose bumps were appearing on my skin I also watched with curiosity to see peoples reactions as they wandered into hearing range, to see if any others were able to hear how intelligently she played. Manjana was her name.

I was captivated by these pianos, as many people were. Somehow this instrument beckons people to gather, maybe taking parts playing together at the same time, or appreciating what the others around them played, taking turns….then wind up hanging out talking with those they’ve met. This whole interactive theatre engaging people to share and join in with each other was a complete delight! Once again confirming that there’s just so much spontaneous creativity happening in Berlin, something constantly percolating with a creative edge. I was pretty mesmerized that this whole playground erupted to join people together, celebrating music and camaraderie.

Thanks for the fabulous gift to the community!

This first photo is from another persons’ assortment of photos, the rest are what I took on the day following the graffiti action.

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My new artists’ loft residence in Berlin